Environment is the big loser
Our Environmental Protection Department bureaucrats are to be congratulated on their masterstroke of permitting the construction of a liquefied natural gas terminal at South Soko Island. It has simultaneously solved several problems and bestowed a magnificent benefit on CLP Power. With this decision, the problem of a sustainable fishery has been solved by facilitating its destruction. The government will save money because it will not have to compensate the fishermen, because their industry will just collapse.
Under the Scheme of Control, CLP Power will benefit from increased revenues of about HK$1 billion. The ultimate benefit to the taxpayer is that this on-going degradation of our natural habitat means there will be no environment left for these bureaucrats to protect. The bureau can then be closed, with considerable savings.
It is, however, a sad day for fisheries and the Chinese white dolphins.
Eric Bohm, WWF Hong Kong
A lesson in American denial
Don Kirk's opinion piece 'Don't ignore Vietnam's lessons for Iraq' (March 31) is an object lesson in denial. Does the author seriously think that Vietnam was lost because of self-imposed deadlines on operations in Cambodia, a bombing halt on North Vietnam or other failures in strategy or tactics? The US failed in Vietnam not because of flawed strategy and tactics, but because the goal of creating a democracy was unrealistic given Vietnam's history, geopolitical configuration and the communists' decades-long domination of Vietnam's nationalist movement which American firepower alone could not dislodge.
It failed also because the southern army turned tail when North Vietnam launched a 1975 spring offensive, probing points of vulnerability. It failed because its leaders were dictators, not democrats. Most of all, it failed because the US government wasn't honest about the 'winability' of the war. That's the lesson of Vietnam and it seems the lesson was lost on US President George W. Bush in his pursuit of a democracy in Iraq.
Finally, Kirk would have the political will of the American people, as expressed through their elected representatives in Congress, take a back seat to the judgment of the commander-in-chief and his chief advisers. Other political systems in which the leader's judgment is law were defeated in a great crusade for democracy in an earlier world war, at great cost.
Is there really any point in offering up the lives of young Americans for slaughter in the name of democracy in places like Vietnam and Iraq where democracy was/is a pipe dream?
John Barry Kotch, Guangzhou
Victims of Guantanamo
It is a shame when someone follows his sentence 'I would not want innocent people tortured' with 'however ...', as Craig Gibson does in 'All too predictable' (April 3). Mr Gibson repeats the mantra of US Vice-President Dick Cheney and President George W. Bush regarding Guantanamo Bay. I suggest that torture apologists open their eyes to the facts.
Bishar al-Rawi, for one, might disagree with Mr Gibson's claims. He is an Iraqi citizen who fled Saddam Hussein's regime in the 1980s and moved to Britain.
In 2002, he flew to Gambia to open a peanut processing plant. Unfortunately, he had a 'suspicious device' in his bag, which police later confirmed was a battery charger. Officials at Gatwick airport informed CIA agents in Gambia who 'renditioned' him to Guantanamo - via Afghanistan - where he was charged with being affiliated with al-Qaeda - because of the battery charger.
After five years of torture and isolation, Mr al-Rawi was released last week. These are the people who are being tortured, not terrorists.
Jack Muir, Lamma
Don't blame religion
Recently, some writers have claimed religions cause the world's many problems rather than being part of the solution to them. It is easy to attribute racial conflicts and sectarian bloodshed to religious feuds. While religion may not be ruled out, the causes of many conflicts are more complicated.
People do not hate and kill because of different gods, but because of disputes over food, water, land, and other issues. As natural resources become increasingly scarce, we will only see more people fighting for survival.
Religion is blamed because it is so conspicuous.
There may be little chance for the world to get any better if people conclude that religion is the culprit, and brand anyone devoted to religion as fanatics.
Karen Lee, Tai Po
Denial of God is offensive
The recent torrent of abuse against religion, including 'We are born, we live, we die' (April 3), is sadly a common phenomenon in Europe, where many have abandoned traditional principles for do-it-yourself moral systems.
Despite the fact that people generally fight for resources and power, rather than philosophical differences, religion is an easy scapegoat.
In Hong Kong, we have a long-standing tradition of respect for each other's faiths and a desire to avoid insulting each other, perhaps due to our easy-going Buddhist and Taoist roots, the Chinese principles of maintaining harmony, and partly due to the prudence of the British in allowing local people to find quietly their own path to spiritual satisfaction.
In the Christian and Muslim religions, public denial of the existence of God is not seen as distasteful but as grossly offensive.
Given that more than 1 million Hongkongers are Christian or Muslim, perhaps your correspondents could keep their 'progressive' foreign opinions to themselves and allow us to get along in peace?
Simon Appleby, Mid-Levels
Security nets for families
I was encouraged to read your report on the Star Bright project in Tin Shui Wai ('Battle on the home front', March 20). These women are gaining in confidence and resilience to overcome domestic violence. The networks they have formed are providing a security net for families in need.
As an officer of the Community Investment and Inclusion Fund (CIIF), I am pleased to acknowledge that the project is one of the 130 sponsored by CIIF.
The Star Bright networks are examples of social capital strategies promoted by CIIF to invest in building strong and self-sustaining neighbourhoods to support families.
The Sunny Community project is a CIIF-funded project in Tung Chung. Over three years, eight co-operatives have been established, operated by over 300 volunteers, connecting more than 500 families who might be unsupported, generating over 250 part-time jobs.
The social capital strategies promoted by CIIF are founded on the idea that if the nuclear family could be connected with eight to 10 families with a high level of mutual trust, their vulnerability to distress, dysfunction and domestic violence could be reduced.
Social connectedness is a powerful tool to enhance well-being and guard against violence or abuse.
It is also found to contribute to cutting crime, increased longevity and better social and economic outcomes.
Sophia Kao, Community Investment and Inclusion Fund